A comprehensive pocket guide for Flinders Island »

From history to activities to outdoors and more with Len Zell

By Kerry Scambler
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Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island

Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island

Flinders Island - Killiecrankie Beach
Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island
Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island by Len Zell
Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island


Flinders Island lies in Bass Strait between mainland Australia and Tasmania.  As many a visitor will attest, it’s a place unlike any other, even its 'twin', King Island to the west.

On Flinders, granite mountains rise out of the sea to become spectacular backdrops to lush countryside and varying thicknesses of bushland, all brimming with plant and animal life. It’s rimmed with small, secluded bays and long, white beaches that offer peaceful retreats and make for very interesting beachcombing.

Let's give you an even better description from Tasmanian photographer and artist Arwen Dyer* who has not only created beautiful images of the island, she also paints it with words particularly well:

The granite coast is astonishing in form and colour: contours painted red, yellow and green with lichen sweep into the sea and boulders juxtaposed with ragged limestone cliffs, balance precariously. Each beach shares its fairytale in variations of aqua-blue water, white sand, chiselled arches and crimson rocks.

The ocean laps in gentle conversation or rages as crashing waves. Mount Strzelecki towers above, draped in clouds or glowing in the sun. This is a delightful place where seas meet mountain slopes, wildlife perches, calls or dances at nearly every corner, nights twinkle with endless stars, wind howls and locals welcome you like old friends.

So, if you like the East Coast of Tassie, you'll LOVE Flinders Island. And although it’s not huge, it’s very rich with things to see, discover and take in.

Now we all know how good the internet is for researching travel destinations, but what if you really want to take all that information with you to have on hand as you’re wandering the roads and paths less travelled? To a place where the cows and wombats and other inhabitants really aren’t that fussed that the old www doesn’t make it everywhere?

Let me, as a Flinders fan, offer some advice. Pick up Len Zell’s Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island.  This is literally a pocket rocket guide on just about everything you and any travelling companions could find of interest on the island. 

In his Foreword, the then Tasmanian Tourism Minister Scott Bacon says "As an island off an island state it has an abundance of unique experiences, breath-taking landscapes and authentic characters which truly set it apart from the rest of the world" ... " The natural history, landscape, flora and fauna all hold an incredible fascination for visitors and residents alike."

When some friends and I flew away to island life last year, we too became entranced with all of these – just a shame this Guide came to our attention only after the last trip!

Yes we picked up maps and various brochures from the visitor centre and were given some great recommendations on where to visit by the welcoming locals which worked well for our short trip, but the background information in the Wild Discovery Guide would have added a bit more depth to the trip. All the group had enquiring minds and we just 'like to know stuff' about where we are, so it would have been mightily handy.

On first impressions, you’d expect this slim little number to contain just some basic visitor information but that's just one big illusion! The publisher deliberately used high quiality, thinner paper to fit everything in and create a travel-friendly guide. Here's what awaits you inside:

  • how to get there
  • what to take with you
  • activities for visitors
  • the physical attributes of the island, both ancient and current
  • vegetation and animal life
  • the climate and oceanography
  • human history
  • many photographs to give you a real feel for the island's landscape, including aerial shots to give perspective
  • a regional guide to the many and various points of interest right around the island
  • a guide to the flora and fauna (with photos for easy identification)
  • further reading and websites to visit

Its size means you can easily pack it in your bag (and clever packing is a requirement when flying on small planes, trust me on that one!) and its wealth of knowledge will be at your fingertips wherever you are on the island.... unlike an internet connection.

What it doesn’t include is specific information on accommodation, other tourism related businesses, shopping etc – online remains the best place for this kind of travel info. But you’ll certainly get a great picture of Flinders Island and what sort of adventure you can have.


If you’re remotely thinking of an escape to island life, Bass Strait style, this slender volume is a definite first step for information and inspiration. It will most likely be a constant companion on your journey.

As a previous visitor to Flinders, I wish we’d had this Guide on hand. Yes, partly to impress the travelling friends but to have enriched the experience just a little more. I have no doubts we will be returning to the island where the mountains rise from the sea and the first two things in the pack will be this guide and my reading glasses – the font is quite small.

Get it and go!


About the author: Len Zell is Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University and, in addition to his scientific studies and roles, is author of many travel guides. These include two editions of Lonely Planet's books on diving the Great Barrier Reef, The Great Barrier Reef for BBC Earth, Wild Discovery Guide's Best Desert & Savannah Tracks - atlas & guide and also Wild Discovery Guide to Australian Seashores . He is passionate about the natural environment, especially coastal and the coral reef systems.

Len's books are available online and postage free around Australia  - see www.wilddiscovery.com.au

Wild Discovery Guide - Flinders Island, Tasmania by Len Zell is published by Wild Discovery Guides (first printed 2011, sc, 148pp). Available online from www.wilddiscovery.com.au for A$34.95 plus postage.

(*Along with regular exhibitions, Arwen Dyer has her own website and is also a featured artist with our friends at Sandy Bay Chalet.)


  • Flinders Island (TAS)

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